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What's it mean to be preseason No. 1?

September 02, 2011

So UCLA fans have lots to cheer about with the Bruins being the No. 1 team in both the men's and women's preseason coaches' polls.

Or do they?

Just how good are the coaches at predicting in the preseason poll what might take place at the NCAA Championship eight-plus months hence? Well if we had to give them a letter grade, they might not be helping their team's overall GPA.

This is the 11th year since Golf World resumed publishing a coaches' polls. Only twice in the first 10 seasons have the men's coaches' correctly predicted in the preseason poll the eventual national champion: Clemson in 2002-03 and Georgia in 2004-05. More frequently the eventual men's winner has actually not be ranked at all in the preseason poll: California in 2003-04, Stanford in 2006-07 and Augusta State in 2010-11.

Similarly on the women's side, the coaches have picked the correct NCAA champion only twice in 10 tries: Duke in 2001-02 and Duke in 2006-07. That said, the eventual national champion has been ranked in the top-10 in the preseason poll every season except for 2009-10, when Purdue was ranked No. 12 to start the fall.

Here's a look the preseason choice for No. 1 and the eventual champion and where they ranked in the preseason.

__MEN         Preseason No. 1    NCAA champion (preseason rank)

__2001-02    Florida                   Minnesota, 16

2002-03    Clemson                Clemson, 1

2003-04    Clemson                California, NR

2004-05    Georgia                 Georgia, 1

2005-06    Georgia                 Oklahoma State, 2

2006-07    Oklahoma State    Stanford, NR

2007-08    Stanford                UCLA, 5

2008-09    UCLA                    Texas A&M, 9

2009-10    Oklahoma State    Augusta State, NR

2010-11    Oklahoma State    Augusta State, 3

2011-12    UCLA                     ??

__WOMEN   Preseason No. 1    NCAA champion (preseason rank)

__2001-02    Duke                      Duke, 1

2002-03    Duke                      USC, 8

2003-04    Duke                      UCLA, 3

2004-05    UCLA                     Duke, 2

2005-06    UCLA                     Duke, 2

2006-07    Duke                      Duke, 1

2007-08    Duke                      USC, 4

2008-09    USC                       Arizona State, 4

2009-10    Arizona State         Purdue, 12

2010-11    USC                       UCLA, 2

2011-12    UCLA                     ??

One other curious thing to check out was how the defending NCAA champion was ranked in the following year's preseason poll. It's particularly interesting this year because Augusta State, the two-time NCAA men's champion was ranked No. 22 in the preseason poll, the lowest ever for the defending champion. Not surprisingly, the defending champion more often than not is given the benefit of the doubt by coaches in the preseason poll … call it the "respect the champion" factor.


YEAR       MEN                          WOMEN

__2002-03    Minnesota, 2             Duke, 1

2003-04    Clemson, 1               USC, 11

2004-05    California, 19             UCLA, 1

2005-06    Georgia, 1                 Duke, 2

2006-07    Oklahoma State, 1    Duke, 1

2007-08    Stanford, 1                Duke, 1

2008-09    UCLA, 1                    USC, 1

2009-10    Texas A&M, 7            Arizona State, 1

2010-11    Augusta State, 3        Purdue, 3

2011-12    Augusta State, 22      UCLA, 1